02 March 2011

Motorways, megabite, meditation, monotangle

If you've come to see my entry for The Diva's Weekly Challenge this week, look no further than the first photograph (well, there's more tangly goodness further down, so you may want to scroll on through).  If, on the other hand, you'd like to be further entertained by the weirdness that is my life (and hear the explanation for the alliterative title of this post), then read on...

This is how my day started... on the motorway (yes folks, in this town, more than one lane travelling in the same direction is what passes for a motorway).

As my choice of photograph above may suggest, I was quite stressed at the beginning of this week.  I had so many things to do, I didn't know where to start.  So, on Sunday, I decided to create a 'tasks list' and then prioritise things.  It took most of the day to get the list sorted out — there were almost 100 items on it (just under 100 actually, or my head may have exploded).  I narrowed down what had to be done in the next couple of days, then yesterday (Monday) I spent 13 hours "doing."

It was, however, clear to me that I wasn't becoming less stressed in the process, even though my list was down to 87 tasks by the end of the day.  (No, I was not slacking off... as I was crossing of the tasks I was remembering still more!)

The List (somehow it has now achieved capital letter, double underline status in my mind) currently stands at 83.  Unfortunately "write blog" wasn't one of my Listed tasks.  Nor was "tangle The Diva's Challenge" (drat), nor was eat chocolate cake.  Bear with me, I must digress a moment or two.  No, I really must, and this is the awesome reason why —

Chocolate Mud Cake!
My week was cheered considerably today by the Tuesday Tanglers (it's tomorrow already today in Australia, remember? okay... now keep reading [grin]).  Every Tuesday, as you may or may not have heard, our local tangle family gets together and whiles away the hours tangling at a local café.  Today, however, was even more special, for it was a Tuesday Tangler Birthday.  Yep – this is where the chocolate comes into play (and the mega bite – see how I did that?).  That chocolaty goodness made a rainy, grey day and rather stressful week, suddenly brighter and more relaxing... oh, and tangling... and, of course, the company of good friends too.  Yep – it was mostly the company (and the laughter... let's not forget the laughter!).

So, what to do about my (not permanently reduced) stress levels? Well, tangle – obviously – though there was some tangling already on my List (from now on I'm not taking on tangling that comes with deadlines, it's incredibly un-Zen).  No, the only possible response to having so much to do and not enough time to do it, was to decide to spend four days doing almost nothing.

Illogical?  It may seem so, but I realised that, as soon as I find myself thinking, "I've got too much to do!!" [add a tone of mild panic as you read that sentence for full effect], it's time for me to stop Doing — and switch to Just Being.  So I applied to attend a meditation retreat.
  • no speaking (people always think that's the difficult part, but it's fantastic)
  • getting up at 4:00am every morning (I'll admit that's not fun)
  • and meditating for twelve hours a day
It's wonderful.  (Honestly! ...I've done it before.)

I doubt I'd have come to this (now seemingly obvious) decision this time last year.  I'll put that down to the effect of Zentangle on my (clearly improved) thought processes.  (Sandy's "Yoga For Your Brain" descriptor is clearly spot on.)

I'll tell you how I go with the meditation when I return (to computers, to traffic, to The List)... but for now I'll conclude with the final "M"... this week's Challenge #11Monotangle!

I broke out a new Moleskine journal [hmm... I may have to see someone for these alliterative tendencies] for this challenge: creating a Zentangle (or ZIA) using just a single tangle.  People have indicated that they enjoy reading my 'process' postings, so here's how it went:
  1. I decided to use a tangle I've never tangled before.  For some reason I'm drawn [pun intended] to shiny, new tangles for these challenges (hey, why not add a little danger to make it interesting?!)  My rules were: no practising, no test run, study the steps, close the book, and pen to paper.  So I found Etcher in Sandy's aforementioned new book, and I was off and running.  ("Hey – why go simple when I can make it more fun by searching for something tricky?" writes the lady with The List.) 
  2. I drew it small... medium... large... with and without a dark background... and then sat back to 'appreciate.'  I was thinking as I tangled (usually a bad sign), "This tangle shall not defeat me. It shall not."  (I suspect my subconscious mantra was, "This List shall not defeat me. It shall not.")  It wasn't a horrible effort, but it looked a bit stressed (surprise, surprise!) – and it didn't 'sing' to me.

  3. So I turned the page and had another go.  This time (after the chocolate cake) I was feeling a little more mellow (I think it probably shows).  I ambled around the tile in a rather uncharacteristically aimless manner (for me).  So I was off to a happy start.
  4. Unfortunately it was at about this point that I suddenly declared, "Oh dear, those look like little ears!"  (If you're like me, it's incredibly difficult to 'unsee' things once you've seen them.)

    (extreme close-up)
  5. Melissa and I looked at them and then, as giggles ensued, I pointed to the one, odd, spiky variant I'd drawn and I dubbed him, "cactus man."  To reinforce his new title, I turned his dots into a smiley face (with a mouth), which only served to encourage the giggling.  Our fellow café patrons probably considered moving quietly away at this point, so they wouldn't attract the attention of the 'clearly-unhinged' women at the corner table. 

    Meet Cactus Man (or possibly Cactus Boy – he's quite small):

    (extreme close-up)
  6. What to do?  (I said this out loud as soon as my composure was somewhat regained.)  Melissa advised (as I have said to many other students in the past), "Keep on tangling, and see what happens."  She also made me promise to photograph both Cactus Boy and the 'ears' before I covered them with anything [drat].
  7. I drew a few circles (you can see the ones I started with at the base of each shape), and I was suddenly thinking circles.  So, without further ado I filled an 'ear' with circles, et voilà!  (That's Cactus Boy with the arrow — transformed. Click here to read hilarious poem by Mel, in loving memory of Cactus Boy.)

    (extreme close-up)
  8. I added yet more circle fillings, and here, finally was my Monotangle of choice!  There's no shading, but that seemed right for this one.  There's also a blank 'tile' waiting next to it on the page.  I shall wait to fill that one until I get home from meditating.

I did not surgically remove the first page of my journal (though I considered it briefly).  It will serve to remind me, every time I open my journal, of this week's invaluable lesson —  

It's More Important To Be than it is to Do!

♫♪♫ Do, Be, Do, Be, Do
...sorry, couldn't resist one more giggle for the day [grin]

Another wonderfully playful Challenge this week – thanks Laura for your great, Play-Encouraging words (great timing!) – and, by the end of it all (now about 3:00am as I put my blog, and myself, to bed), I'm feeling rather more relaxed than I was sitting in a traffic jam this morning. 

Hobart: a lovely little city — where two lanes of slow moving traffic
is called 'Peak Hour' (even though it's more like 40 minutes).

Once I leave for the meditation retreat, I will be offline for a while.
No email, no Fbook, no blogging, not a telephone, not even a pen
and paper (that last part is a truly scary prospect).

So, until I return,
Be Happy — Be Here Now!

Coming up next time :  our latest Ensemble prints will be back from the printer, and I'll post the photographs!
A timely point of interest : if you're ever reading my blog and wondering what time it is where I am (you know, in case you wanted to drop by for a cuppa), there is now a helpful "Local Time" clock to the side below the search box.  Also, for local tanglers, if you're wondering when the next Weekly Challenge might be going live (Monday mornings in Diva Land), a little further down is a "Diva Challenge Local Time" clock.


  1. what i wouldn't give for a little meditation retreat.... or chocolate cake, for that matter ;)

  2. I'm with the diva but I love your tangles. I know what you mean about the ears too. I painted a giraffe once. Someone told me the mouth section looked like a frog and then that is all I could see. I wish I took a picture of it, but I forgot and gave it as a gift.....

  3. Awesome ZT or ZIA, as the case may be. Is it intent, process, or result that counts? I'm currently avoiding doing--anything. I prefer just being, but when he gets home, Hubby's gonna ask what the heck I was doing! He just doesn't understand the metaphysics of it all, lol!

  4. @Paula: oh cool - I ♥ it when people know what I'm talking about. ;-)
    @Molossus: I think that whatever you think counts... counts [grin]. LOL - just soak up the Being, it's good stuff. And highly metaphysical of course (gotta love those 'm' words!).

  5. As I sit here eating a DARK chocolate Milky Way . . . enjoyed each line of your post. Thanks for the time clock - so it is tomorrow, that must mean I am really behind in my list for today?
    I no longer plan my days - between kids, the phone and when I took care of my Dad,I realized the day will not go as planned any way so why take the time to make a plan it?
    Point 4 - yes, once something has been labeled, it is hard not to see it. Just no going back.
    Enjoy your retreat! Such discipline!

  6. Oh Kit, what a chuckle! I don't do lists, I figure by the time the list is written the 1st job is done and it's practice for my brain! I say, just let the day flow what ever gets done is OK. It is aways time to tangle and a cup of tea! I am going to love flicking through the pages of your book! Love it all!

  7. Kit love your process... the little ears and cactus man, what a chuckle. It's wonderful to see the lovely final piece, but getting a peek into your journey is like... chocolate cake?

  8. *sigh* I miss cactus boy...

  9. awesome kit! Mel, I miss cactus boy too! :) but I love the little circles...I'm a circle girl! :)
    That's a great tile! :)
    thanks for inspiring me!

  10. Fun story and
    Lovely Tangle!

  11. The process is almost as much fun as the results (sometimes even more). Thanks for reminding me that even though we're all tanglers at different skill levels (which can be a little indimidating at times), we're all on a journey and it's great fun to share it. I think we're all getting unexpected results from Lauras' Challenges.

  12. Kit, It's a beautiful tile. Your story of ears and Cactus boy cracked me up!

  13. I like hearing the creating behind the creation. What a fun story it often is. thanks for sharing.

    I love your description that it's hard to unsee. I looked at your lovly, flowing tangle and thought...please don't be insulted...tongues. But delightful, happy tongues, the kind that lovingly go "blllttt" to a dear friend or partner. I had to look again, and I saw blooming flower. And then I saw tongues. This, combined with your Cactus Man smiley face story, just makes me...well...smile.

  14. I love your backstory as well as the images - what a wonderful, fun thing to share!

  15. @wolfhowlings: LOL - great comment!
    @everyone: you do realise you're all just encouraging me?! [grin]
    So, "blllttt," dear friends - one and all.

  16. Hi, Kit! You Panda timer is so cute! It's cuter with the tangles drawn on it. Clever! Where did you buy your Panda Timer?


All comments welcome...